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Drought Spreads to Yorkshire, UK

UK - Parts of Yorkshire have today moved into official drought status after another dry month has left river levels and underground water supplies depleted.

Areas from Chesterfield in the south of Yorkshire to Scarborough in the east fall into the drought zone, with areas around Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull and Driffield also affected. But while the Rivers Don, Rother, Hull and Derwent are low or very low for the time of year, public water supplies are unlikely to be affected.

Some areas of Yorkshire have seen the driest 12 months since 1910, and with river levels continuing to fall, the Environment Agency is appealing to farmers and businesses that take water from rivers to look for ways to use water wisely, and share the resources that are available.

Trevor Bishop, Head of Water Resources, said: "Today south and east Yorkshire have moved into official drought status, reflecting the impact that this extremely dry period is having on the environment in the area.

"The Environment Agency must balance the water needs of people, farmers, businesses and the environment and we are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought."

Earlier this month the Environment Agency warned that drought could spread to more areas of the country if dry weather continues, and urged water companies and farmers, as well as businesses and consumers, to take action to protect water supplies from a prolonged drought.

The Environment Agency has already seen fish kills this year caused by dry weather, and is preparing for an increase in environmental incidents over the summer by stepping up river monitoring and increasing its supplies of water aeration and fish rescue equipment.

The Environment Agency is also working to help farmers top up their storage reservoirs, to ensure there are better supplies for the summer months. It has introduced a fast track process for farmers to apply to take additional water when river flows are high, and continues to be as flexible as possible around existing regulations to help farmers, who suffer significant impacts in times of drought.

Important wildlife sites were also given help last week, as the Environment Agency announced new measures to help protect nationally important wildlife sites.

Water companies before applying for drought permits must demonstrate that they have stepped up their water efficiency publicity campaigns and have taken measures to increase leakage detection.

The amount of water that we use at home and in our businesses has a direct effect on the amount of water available in our rivers and for wildlife.

Gemma Hyland

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